Your flight to Spain goes well thanks to a half empty airplane and “Dora the Explorer” downloaded onto an Ipod. You even manage to get an hour or so sleep. You notice that your beloved three year old is sniffling every now and then, but you put it down to the stale pumped air in the plane.
You arrive safe and sound. Everything is going swimmingly. There isn’t a cloud in the sky, your sister-in-law has stocked her fridge with cold beers, and your darling little one goes for a long afternoon nap without a fight. Sharing of Cruzcampo with your brother, looking out at the twinkling blue sea just a block away, you smile and ponder the wonderful holiday that awaits you.
When junior awakes from his nap, however, your bubble quickly bursts.
The sniffles have turned into a full-on snot fest and your three year old is the foulest of moods. He’s clearly hungry but, because of the rapidly advancing cold, is willfully refusing to eat. You offer everything, even the cookies you generally hide from him at home, but he shuns it all and gets crabbier by the second. Your young nephew, who’s been waiting your arrival for weeks, is bemused at your own child’s continual whines and squawks of “mine mine” if anyone so much as looks at a toy he’s playing with. Your brother and sister-in-law look on, clearly horrified. The glances they are exchanging say, “What an awful child. How could she put up with such a whining monster.”
The next few days pass and things continue to slide. The cold gets snottier (and is coupled with a barking cough). The whines get louder. The aversion to food, stronger. And worried glances between family members increase tenfold. On top of all that, you can’t go out for tapas and drinks in the warm Spanish evening because “oh-snotty-one” has become “oh-clingy-one.” You can’t leave him at home, but you can’t drag your sick, crabby three year old to a bar either. You’re stuck in watching badly dubbed American TV shows which you’ve never heard.
When you leave your brother’s apartment and set off for your mom’s house in the beautiful Spanish countryside, you think things will get better. Perhaps, the mountain air will blow away the cold? Perhaps the sweet smells of el campo will bring back his appetite?
But no, that was just fanciful thinking. Your little one doesn’t get better, he just gets sicker. An eye infection develops and the cough gets deeper and soon you, your mom, and ailing child are making daily trips to the clinic and the local pharmacia. Any thoughts of whiling away hours sitting on the patio, staring out at luscious Andalucian hills dotted with tiny white houses, must be banished. You will spend your days plopping eye drops into gunky little eyes and your nights not getting much sleep as the small child next to you coughs and sweats.
Thankfully, after a couple of days and with the antibiotics doing their magic, your darling begins to perk up. For a brief moment, it looks like you might be able to enjoy the last couple of days of your holiday and finally get that sangria at sunset or that quiet stroll amongst the blossoming almond trees you’ve been yearning for.
Alas, it is not to be.
As your child begins to boing back to life, you feel an ominous tickle in your throat and a portentous ache behind your knees. Suddenly, the sun feels too hot on your feverish brow and the hills, even the tiny ones, seem to steep to climb. Your getting sick. Sick as a dog. Your last hours of your holiday are spent in bed.
By the time you reach the airport for your flight home, your head is banging, your throat is on fire, and you are using enough Kleenex to wallpaper a small apartment building. You are told by a mean looking airport security guard that you must dispose of your water bottle, which means you have to spend your eight hour flight badgering air stewards for measly cups of water to soothe your burning throat. Then, when it is time to land and the plane circles in the sky making its descent, your head is so full of snot you feel like it might explode. And as you walk off the plane, you are completely deaf and unable to hear your three year old’s cries of “I’m hungry” (words, incidentally, he hasn’t uttered in nearly two weeks). When you finally get home, your legs go to jelly and you collapse on your husband like a runner who’s just crossed the finish line after a grueling, wet and cold, 26 mile marathon.
Holidays. You got to love ‘em.